Sitting at Voxx coffee, which is one my favorite few coffee shops in Seattle, and recognizing oh-so-well the blind aimless blundering that made up the bulk of my life in 2008-2009. Remember Scooby-Doo? One of the kids’ tricks was to throw something – a blanket, a bucket, a barrel – over the head of the bad guy, and he’d go running around stumbling into posts and walls while the kids made their hasty escape.
I feel like that guy. In retrospect! Right at the moment my head is less enveloped in fog and I can see forward and backward with a clarity I didn’t have at the time. I suppose that’s human nature, to be hyper-focused on the critical moment and lose some perspective, only to recognize later the narrow tunnel through which one journeyed.
I now walk with my head up, looking forward, and finding lots of interesting life out there to observe and interact with. Professionally, personally, and in that gray area between the two that I predict will make up more and more of our collective shared space in the years to come. Work friends who are actually friends, and friend friends who you occasionally get together and work with. Partners with whom you do business with, either explicitly in the old-school LLC “let’s go into business together” model, or, more likely, with whom you have an implicit, but no less important, relationship, all parties sharing the same goal of supporting and encouraging each other in separate domains. The sounding boards. The devil’s advocates. The constructive criticizers.
Reciprocal muses. Your Zelda to my F. Scott. My Beatrice to your Dante.
Think of this as two possibilities: on the one hand, a tandem bicycle – both riders pedaling the same machine in the same direction at the same pace – vs. two separate bicycles; yes, both going in the same direction at the same speed, but with an acknowledged – I will say necessary – distance between them.
It’s this distance that fascinates me right now. Too much – too far — and the other fades into the background noise, part of the cacophony of everyday life; the half-known and the partially-recognized and the almost-important; too close, however, and that slight gap, into which the arc of electricity, the firing of the synapses, the place into which the mysterious alchemy of true collaboration (at all levels) takes place, gets squashed and squeezed and cramped. It’s like placing a candle snuffer over an incipient flame.
Distance is a funny and confounding thing, though. I think most of us are hardwired to clutch, to grab, to possess, to hold – not to “see the other whole against the wide sky”, to pull a quote from Rilke – but to see narrowly right through the other’s pupils, as it were. Some people are conditioned by family or circumstance to feel lonely, dispossessed, and despairing when distance separates them from their desires. And there’s a certain (illusory?) comfort in falling in to the other, collapsing the gap, willingly giving up individual purpose in pursuit of a more immediately comforting embrace.
Is it possible to develop and carry a new paradigm around in one’s head? To recognize that some distance – however slight, and in whatever dose is comfortable – is not only valuable, but required? To leave space for the relationship to flower, the collaboration to germinate, the partnership to bear fruit?
I think so. I hope so. My curiosity on the matter is waxing strongly. My personal vectors are all reorienting themselves along the lines of this hypothesis.